Articles

Tue 8th Feb 2005

Greens and the Environment

Our environment is extremely precious to us and needs to be respected and treated with care. The protection and preservation of our physical environment is critical to our survival and lifestyle. We are blessed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in having a good source of water, clean fresh air in most places, lush fertile land and beautiful coastlines. SVG Green Party believes it is necessary that we all care for our environment and look after our ecosystem and biodiversity. We need to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions as a country and actively participate in the global struggle against climate change.

Air The extent of air pollution in Kingstown is unacceptable. If the pollution levels continue to rise we will see an increase in respiratory illnesses and an increase in childhood asthma. The SVG Green Party will install air pollution monitors in the capital, to measure high and low periods and extent of air pollution. The SVG Green Party will use the findings to create policies to provide Kingstown's residents, workers and visitors with better, good-quality air at acceptable levels as agreed by the World Health Organisation.

Water The protection and preservation of the watersheds is paramount to the long-term health of the environment, our people and our future generations. Our water courses are vulnerable to pollution via construction upstream and by pesticides that are washed into the rivers from agricultural lands. SVG Green Party will take the ULP regime to the High Court when the ULP publicly announces the route for construction of the middle-section of the cross country road development.

Land We cannot afford to keep on dumping so much of our waste in landfill sites. There will be leaching and pollution of water courses and we will run out of sites to bury the rubbish. Where will the next landfill or dump site be? Would you want it next to your house? Much of our waste can be recycled and we should start doing so immediately. It seems that the ULP and NDP are unaware of this pressing issue. Countries such as Holland have been recycling household waste for 35 years. If you take out items such as glass, paper, tins, plastics, batteries and compostable foodstuffs from your bin, you will find that your 'real' amount of waste is severely reduced. In government SVG Green Party will

1. Encourage the use of the three 'R's, reduce the amount of rubbish we create; recycle what we don't need; and reuse items rather than continually buying new ones.
2. Revise the disposal of white goods so they are not buried
3. Say no to any incineration of rubbish for health reasons
4. Start a door to door collection of recyclable waste such as paper, plastics, glass, tins, and batteries
5. Encourage more composting

Marine environment

Pollution dumped into our river water courses ultimately ends up the marine environment as it flows downstream. A serious concern is pesticide residue leaking into the coastal environment. Pesticides ingested or absorbed by fish, end up in the human food chain when we consume fish from our local waters. Also, much rubbish is simply dumped in coastal areas. In office, SVG Green Party will put into place maintenance of beaches and coastal waters through national community clean up and undertake clean up campaigns. We will strengthen legislation and enforce measures to control illegal mining of sand from our beaches, polluting at sea and other areas which result in damage and pollution to the coastline. We will mobilise a public campaign to stop further pollution of the marine environment.

The Economics of a Healthy Environment

The price of electricity in SVG is too high. As electricity prices increase there is directly proportional increase in the amount of people who 'drop-out' of using electricity and turn to kerosene as a source of fuel. As the January 2005 high tax on kerosene begins to bite, it will push more and more people of the poor to cut down trees to use the wood as fuel for cooking. In the long-term, the roots of the cut-down trees rot, and their once live roots, now dead, offer no stability to the ground when there is heavy rain fall. It is the roots of trees and plants that hold together the soil of hillsides in heavy rain. Deforestation results in heavy land-slides and flooding during heavy rainfall. This has been seen on many occasions in places such as Haiti, causing substantial damage and loss of life. Equally so, in the long-term, deforestation damages the delicate watersheds in dry seasons, causing serious shortages of drinking water.

Disaster response and relief

SVG Green Party would implement a pro-active stance, that is to say, we will carry out annual live exercises to simulate our response in dealing effectively with air, land and sea disasters. We will produce fliers about what to do and not do in an emergency and include a list of emergency phone numbers.

SVG Green Party policies

In government, the SVG Green Party will strengthen laws to protect and preserve the nation's environment. We will cancel the cross country road project when in government. We will

1. introduce anti-litter, clean air and noise pollution legislation
2. Strengthen the protection and preservation of our heritage sites
3. Put a tax on environmentally damaging activities
4. Designate parts of the country protected areas
5. Undertake an extensive reforestation program to stop landslides, as recently seen in California and Mexico, and reduce soil erosion.
6. Make Environmental impact assessments a feature of all future development projects, and not let building start until we have gone through the whole appeal process.

Ivan O'Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA.
Leader and Co-founder of SVG Green Party

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